The A’s fell 8-1 to the Astros Thursday night amid constant booing and heckling from fans the entire three hours and 28 minutes. The A’s start the season 0-1 but have three more games left in the home opener series.
On Opening Night you want your best pitcher on the mound and it was clear both teams had their ace hurlers on the mound. Each team mustered just one hit through the first three innings and the scoreboard didn’t change until the relievers came in. But once it did, the Astros were able to do a lot more damage.
Chris Bassitt (L 0-1, 5.06 ERA) took the loss in the first Opening Day start of his career. Michael Brantley (3-for-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI) led the Astros offense tp end the game a triple away from a cycle. Brantley’s first hit of the game was a line drive to center in the first, but he was left stranded thanks to a double play step on second and throw to first from Jed Lowrie.
The fourth inning was when the thirsty bases got a sip of juice. Jose Altuve led off the fourth with a full-count walk before Brantley followed with a double. Alex Bregman grounded out to Chapman who noticed Altuve halfway to home and made the smart decision to throw to first.
Bassitt walked off the mound in the fourth with only one run on the board and owed a big thank you to Chad Pinder, who made a jumping catch against the wall in right center to prevent another run. Ramon Laureano hugged him after the play and Lowrie applauded from the infield. Carlos Correa took a 94-mph Bassitt slider to the arm and the crowd went wild before the inning came to an end with the A’s trailing 1-0.
Elvis Andrus‘ first hit wearing green and yellow was a ground-rule double on a one-hop bounce over the left field wall. His two-out double was the A’s first hit off Zack Greinke in the game. Greinke followed with a wild pitch to Mark Canha which advanced Andrus to third but he remained stranded. Ramón Laureano had the A’s second and third hits off Greinke to lead off the fourth and sixth innings, but a Matt Chapman sacrifice fly to center brought in the A’s only run of the game.
The A’s bullpen started to warm up in the sixth and Yusmiero Petit relieved Bassitt with one out and runners on first and second. Petit forced a foul-ball pop up to catcher Sean Murphy for the second out but afterward, did the unexpected. He threw three straight balls to Yordan Alvarez before the at-bat turned into a ground-rule double to bring in two runners and make it 3-0. All runs belonged to Bassitt.
Bassitt felt good and said the problem was more the two walks and a hit batter where two of the three ended up scoring. He spoke about his first first start of 2021:
“You can’t give free passes to that team or any of the other good lineups and I did that unfortunately.”
Petit finished the night allowing one hit in 2/3 inning and put up zeros in his full inning. LHP Adam Kolarek made his A’s debut and it was worse than Daulton Jefferies‘ 2020 MLB debut. Kolarek lasted just 1/3 an inning, giving up back-to-back solo homers to Brantley and Bregman to made it 5-1.
Usually he paints, usually he is really difficult on lefties, he has a history of doing that. He came in for 2 out of 3 lefties. Brantley is a very tough guy on us and got some good swings off him, gets him on the run a little bit with a home run right away so we are not going to shy away from Adam, he does a nice job.”
J.B Wendelken relieved Kolarek with one out and runners on first and second. Wendelken walked the first batter he faced then struck out the next two, Straw and Maldonado, to get out of a bases-loaded eighth inning.
It got worse when Reymin Guduan pitched the ninth inning and struggled his first time wearing Oakland across his chest. By the time Guduan walked off the mound it was an 8-1 ballgame.
Greinke pitched six full innings and didn’t walk a single batter or allow a single run, just the three hits to Pinder, Laureano and Andrus. Enoli Paredes relieved Greinke and Laureano led off the seventh with a double. He stole third before Chapman hit a sac fly to give the A’s their first run which made it 3-1.
That was all the A’s could do. Ka’ai Tom pinch-ran for Mitch Moreland who drew a walk to land on first for his first time wearing an A’s uniform. Jed Lowrie and Sean Murphy both struck out to end the inning — a common theme Thursday night for Oakland. They left too many men stranded and the bullpen didn’t help.
Chad Pinder said every single game matters and when September comes around these are the games you will remember:
“Every single game matters. Whether its the Astros or the Mariners, it doesn’t matter who we are playing. Whether its game one or game 75, each game does matter and obviously its not the foot we want to start out on but we will come back and play some baseball tomorrow.”
Ramon Laureano was 2-for-4 on Thursday and had back-to-back lead off hits in the fourth and seventh. … Mitch Moreland was 0-for-2 in his debut with the A’s but did draw a walk … Ka’ai Tom made his A’s debut when he pinch-ran for Moreland after the walk. … Michael Brantley was a triple away from a cycle on Opening Night and has hit a home run in three straight Opening Day games.